Beware the Dogs of War: Is the American Empire on the Verge of Collapse?
By John W Whitehead – The Rutherford Institute: Waging endless wars abroad (in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Syria) isn’t making America – or the rest of the world any safer, it’s certainly not making America great again, and it’s undeniably digging the U.S. deeper into debt.
In fact, it’s a wonder the economy hasn’t collapsed yet.
Indeed, even if we were to put an end to all of the government’s military meddling and bring all of the troops home today, it would take decades to pay down the price of these wars and get the government’s creditors off our backs. Even then, government spending would have to be slashed dramatically and taxes raised.
You do the math.
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- The government is $19 trillion in debt.
- The Pentagon’s annual budget consumes almost 100% of individual income tax revenue.
- The government has spent $4.8 trillion on wars abroad since 9/11, with $7.9 trillion in interest. As the Atlantic points out, we’re fighting terrorism with a credit card.
- The government lost more than $160 billion to waste and fraud by the military and defense contractors.
- Taxpayers are being forced to pay $1.4 million per hour to provide U.S. weapons to countries that can’t afford them.
- The U.S. government spends more on wars (and military occupations) abroad every year than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.
- Now President Trump wants to increase military spending by $54 billion.
- Add in the cost of waging war in Syria, and the burden on taxpayers soars to more than $11.5 million a day. Ironically, while presidential candidate Trump was vehemently opposed to the U.S. use of force in Syria, and warned that fighting Syria would signal the start of World War III against a united Syria, Russia and Iran, he wasted no time launching air strikes against Syria.
Clearly, war has become a huge money-making venture, and the U.S. government, with its vast military empire, is one of its best buyers and sellers.
Yet what most Americans—brainwashed into believing that patriotism means supporting the war machine—fail to recognize is that these ongoing wars have little to do with keeping the country safe and everything to do with enriching the military industrial complex at taxpayer expense.
The rationale may keep changing for why American military forces are in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Syria. However, the one that remains constant is that those who run the government—including the current president—are feeding the appetite of the military industrial complex and fattening the bank accounts of its investors.
Case in point: President Trump plans to “beef up” military spending while slashing funding for the environment, civil rights protections, the arts, minority-owned businesses, public broadcasting, Amtrak, rural airports and interstates.
In other words, in order to fund this burgeoning military empire that polices the globe, the U.S. government is prepared to bankrupt the nation, jeopardize our servicemen and women, increase the chances of terrorism and blowback domestically, and push the nation that much closer to eventual collapse.
Obviously, our national priorities are in desperate need of an overhauling.
Surely there are much better uses for your taxpayer funds than trillions of dollars being wasted on war? The following are just a few ways those hard-earned dollars could be used:
- $270 billion to repair U.S. public schools, and twice that much to modernize them.
- $251 million for safety improvements and construction for Amtrak.
- $690 million to care for America’s 70,000 aging veterans.
- $11 billion wasted or lost in Iraq in just one year could have paid 220,000 teachers’ salaries.
- The yearly cost of stationing just one soldier in Iraq could have fed 60 American families.
- $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.
- $11 billion per year to provide the world—including our own failing cities—with clean drinking water.
- Use the $10 billion spent every year to provide arms, equipment, training and advice internationally to more than 180 countries to start paying down the overwhelming $19 trillion national debt.
As long as “we the people” continue to allow the government to wage its costly, meaningless, endless wars abroad, the American homeland will continue to suffer: our roads will crumble, our bridges will fail, our schools will fall into disrepair, our drinking water will become undrinkable, our communities will destabilize, and crime will rise.
Here’s the kicker, though: if the American economy collapses—and with it the last vestiges of our constitutional republic—it will be the government and its trillion-dollar war budgets that are to blame.
Eventually, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, all military empires fail.
At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson warns, “Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy.”
More than 50 years ago, President Dwight Eisenhower warned us not to let the military industrial complex endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
We failed to heed his warning.
The consequences, as Eisenhower recognized, of allowing the military-industrial complex to wage endless wars, exhaust our resources and dictate our national priorities are beyond grave:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children… This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Wake up, America. There’s not much time left before we reach the zero hour.
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.